Autumn Chinoiserie – Classic Blue & White

I recently did a “Better Kansas City” show segment on using unexpected colors and patterns for fall decorating. I’ll publish that clip next week. Meanwhile, here’s a taste of that decorating style that I have come to embrace with great enthusiasm: incorporating autumn touches into existing chinoiserie decor.

 

 

 

Ralph Lauren “Mandarin” dinner and salad plates rest upon a stark white ceramic charger from Old Time Pottery.

 

 

I found these lovely cream soup bowls at Nell Hill’s in Parkville, Mo., about 40 minutes away from our home and only 5 minutes from my orthopedic surgeon’s office. (Best place to regroup after bad news!)  I LOVE that place!!! I never spend less than an hour when I visit. A crisp white cotton napkin is fashioned into a variation on the classic crown fold. A sprig of autumn berries brings color and additional texture to the place setting.

 

 

Faux bamboo flatware is perfect for this setting.

 

I bought scads of this sturdy cobalt blue stemware at Pier 1 some years ago, and it has served me well.

 

A very autumn-y pattern of plaid in the table runner with shades of russet, orange, amber, burgundy, cobalt and white is a perfect contrast to dishes. The riot of color contributes to and enhances the overall  boldness of the tablescape. The runner is from TJ Maxx.

 

 

 

 

Ginger jars from Nell Hill’s and temple jars from Home Goods make up the main part of the centerpiece.

 

 

 

 

The length of the centerpiece is punctuated with deep orange mini pumpkins, real and faux acorns, and a meandering garland of berries. Latticed white ceramic planters hold mounded arborvitae.

 

 

The buffet behind the dining table holds its fair share of chinoiserie pieces including a pitcher, an octagonal bowl filled with oversized acorns, and Victorian foot baths mixed with silver candlesticks. The white foo dogs are a nod to the chinoiserie style and add a little unexpected touch.

The bar cart in the corner extends the touches of chinoiserie including the bowls filled with acorns.

Other tablescapes integrating chinoiserie on this blog include:
Mandarin Bling
Mother’s Day Brunch
Blue & White Family Picnic
Blue & White 30th Birthday

Peony Power

I’m joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for her 471st Tablescape Thursday! I’m seeing lots of fall and Halloween tablescapes over there today, so drop on in to get inspired!

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing the Zing to Chinese Takeout 

Once again earlier this year I was a guest on the “Better Kansas City” show. Getting up, dressed, and out the door that early is a real challenge for me, but I really enjoy it every time. This day was particularly fun with tips on creating a tablescape that presents Chinese takeout like a boss! CLICK on the video below to watch the 2-1/2-minute clip from the show, and after that are a few still photos I was able to snap with my iPad. (Time is very short on the set prior to going live, so I’m lucky to squeeze in a few pics!)

 


When I set up these demonstration tables on the set, remember…they are probably more narrow than your typical dining room table by about 12″ or so. The demo table is 6-ft. in length, but only 30″ wide compared to our 42″ wide dining table at home. That being said, you’d have more center space for food, additional decor, or just blank real estate than what’s shown here.

 


Each place setting has a black acrylic square charger (Walmart) topped with an Asian-themed 222 Fifth square plate (“Mia Blossom”) and small rice bowl from Pier 1 Imports. Pier 1 is a terrific place to buy globally themed dishes and decor! If you don’t have one near you, their website is pretty easy to navigate. (Too tall for this television demo, but a vase or two with a simple arrangement of cherry blossoms would be perfect for this tablescape!!)

 


Not everyone is adept at using chopsticks, so as a courtesy to your guests you may want to add flatware such as this faux bamboo stainless. Use the wooden chopsticks typically provided by the restaurant, or consider investing in a pair of permanent ones like these stainless steel beauties resting on a black onyx holder from a local specialty store. The white miso spoons here are from Pier 1. The “Capri” porcelain spice cellars by Gallery Tabletops are from T.J. Maxx and are great for spices or sauces at individual place settings.

 


Each place setting has a little something extra in the way the bamboo fan favors and black napkins, folded to resemble a Chinese sash, are presented in a red silk takeout box from Pier 1.

 


Teapot and cups from World Market.

 


White sake set from World Market. I picked up the Chinese robe wine bottle cover at Tuesday Morning a couple of years ago.


As I pointed out on the show, sometimes food is just so beautiful you might consider using it as a centerpiece. While this sushi is just a pretty good fake for demonstration purposes, it represents the real thing which always abounds in color, form, and texture…perfect elements for a gorgeous centerpiece!

If you’d like to see more tablescapes with an Asian flair for Chinese New Year or anytime Chinese food presentation just needs a little gussying up, check out these posts:
Peaceful Peonies
Year of the Rabbit
Chinese Takeout
Mum’s the Word/Zen Garden
Mikasa Daylight (Design #2)
Float Like A Butterfly
Mandarin Bling
Blue & White 30th Birthday
Copper Zen

Chinese Takeout

I’ve been MIA thanks to aggravating the herniated discs in my lower back. If you’ve never experienced lying in bed in a brace for days on end, believe me….you have been spared a living hell!!!!!!!! Anyhoooo…I’m able to at least sit at my desk for short periods now, so I wanted to hit you with this sort of transitional summer-to-fall tablescape I created about a month ago. No traditionally autumnal elements involved, but the rich colors march in time with late summer/early fall. This tablescape would also be great for Chinese New Year, a casual birthday gathering, or even an Asian-inspired rehearsal dinner.

This time of year starts to get really busy, so what’s a girl to do when faced with a dinner party for which she only has the time and energy to either cook OR decorate? If you’re THIS girl, you decorate and order Chinese takeout!
(Click on any photo, then click again to enhance/enlarge it.)

INSPIRATION: Beautiful floral toss pillows from Home Goods that usually hang out in our living room. The design worked well with the Asian theme.

INSPIRATION: Beautiful floral toss pillows from Home Goods that usually hang out in our living room. The fabric design worked well with the Asian theme.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Full deck

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Multiple place settings

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Single place settingThis table for 6 starts with a full-length ivory tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com. A raw silk runner adorned with bamboo images is centered on the table. The place settings are made up of stone-colored dishes purchased years ago at Tuesday Morning. The rice bowl and plate are separated by a simply-folded ivory napkin from LinenTablecloth.com.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Flatware, Chopsticks, Miso Spoons, Teacup collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Black stemware from Dollar TreeThe “Cambridge”faux bamboo flatware is from Home Goods. It is set to the right of the dishes to make room for the intricately carved chopsticks and a red miso spoon from Pier 1 Imports. Each place setting has a traditionally-shaped teacup (World Market) and a very American water glass in a smoky black (Dollar Tree).

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Centerpiece

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Buddha, orchid, candle arrangement with stones collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Black Asian-inspired votive holdersI enjoyed creating this soothing centerpiece. I had all of these items already in my inventory and have used some of them in various other centerpiece designs. For instance, the rectangular vessels lined with smooth river stones, filled with water and then topped with floating candles were used in a very different way in Hooray for Vodka! The gold Buddha figurines at each end of the table were used at each place setting for the post Peaceful Peonies nearly 3 years ago. I bought the votive holders – used here to visually connect the mirror image elements at each end at a wholesale clearance sale many years ago. The pieces of bamboo laid on the table also act as visual connectors and tie in with the images on the runner.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Seating areaI like to create an inviting outdoor lounge space for guests to hang out before and after dinner that works with the theme of the dining table.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Coffee Table

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Tea tray

 Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Teapot, teacups, miso spoons collageThe coffee table – or tea table as it were – is set up with a tray holding a beautiful red teapot and the same black teacups found on the dining table from World Market. Another of the black votive holders is here, too, for added ambience. The miso spoons set upon black slabs of slate are for serving cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres. I set up miso spoons in a similar fashion for my stepdaughter’s 30th birthday celebration buffet, Blue & White 30th Birthday.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Side table

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Side table collageThe side table in the corner is set with items that coordinate with elements on the dining table. The bright red orchid makes the area stand out a bit more and visually connects with the single orchid blooms used on the dining table.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, www.tabletwentyone.wordpress.com, Chinese Takeout: Paper lantern collageI bought these lighted paper lanterns with a bamboo design in the clearance section at Target many years ago and have never used them. They really add to the overall ambience and look great against the night sky. They were very easy to put up with the permanent hangers I installed earlier this year.

Other Asian-inspired tablescapes on this site:
Mandarin Bling
Copper Zen
Float Like A Butterfly
Mikasa Daylight (Design #2)
Year of the Rabbit
Zen Garden
Mum’s the Word
Peaceful Peonies
Blue & White 30th Birthday

I am linking up this week with:
Christine at Rustic & Refined for “Table It!”
Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday

Float Like a Butterfly

The color brown has its ups and downs when summer rolls around. We don’t want brown grass or leaves hanging around, but we do want that famed Coppertone® brown skin. (As a doctor’s wife, I’ll fuss at you sun worshipers about the dangers of that at another time! 🙂 ) I don’t think brown is a color we generally associate with summer when it comes to decorating, but I hope to dispel that notion.
(Click on any photo, then click again to enlarge/enhance for fine details.)

INSPIRATION PHOTO - EA BRIDE

INSPIRATION: Photo by Angie Weston of Design and Capture Studio

My work was featured in a local bridal magazine, EA Bride, a couple of years ago. I continue to marvel at the work of other designers whose work appears in the magazine with each passing issue. The photo of this grapevine ball in the Summer 2012 issue of the magazine really caught my attention, and I decided I wanted to create something similar someday. That someday finally came to pass a couple of weeks ago.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a Butterfly

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a ButterflyBrown. Yes, that’s what I said…brown. A brown full-length linen is the foundation of this summer tablescape. Like black, brown is a neutral that has the capacity to make other colors snap, crackle & pop.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a Butterfly

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a Butterfly

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a Butterfly - Flatware, Rim Shot collageAn April Cornell table runner and napkins marry brown with vibrant, yet muted shades of seafoam blue. Two square acrylic chargers – one in an icy blue, one in a coppery brown – play off of the linens. Soft seafoam blue dinner plates from TJ Maxx round out the stack. The faux mother of pearl-handled flatware is from Target.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a Butterfly - StemwareWhen I found this fabulous ocean blue color of stemware at Stein Mart a few years ago, I was absolutely smitten. Still am!

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a Butterfly - Grapevine balls wrapped with Oasis MEGA Beaded Wire in "Ice Blue"

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a Butterfly - Grapevine ball wrapped in Oasis MEGA Beaded wire in "Ice Blue", dotted with hydrangea blooms and butterflies

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a Butterfly - Butterfly, Beading, Urn collageI found the large cream-colored urns at Michaels. A grapevine ball is wrapped in Smither’s Oasis MEGA beaded wire in “Ice Blue”. (This beaded wire comes in 11 amazing colors!!!) I used a dab of hot glue to semi-permanently affix softly-tinted blue & green faux hydrangea blossoms. Pretty hand painted aqua blue silk butterflies generously given to me by the good people at Beau-coup.com “float” about. (These graceful beauties also come in green, lavender and pink!) I love the way they transform the centerpiece and add to the 3-D look!

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a ButterflyBetween the two urns sits a trio of smaller grapevine balls trimmed in butterflies and beading much like its big sisters. I didn’t even bother to cut the beaded wire…it’s just one continuous string wrapped around the three orbs. (Students…remember our golden Rule of Three? Look at this picture!!!:-)) These would be so easy and economical to make for wedding reception decor!!!

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a Butterfly - Buddha, Votive, napkin pattern collageTaibei Buddha figurines in seafoam blue from Burlington add to the peaceful aura of the tablescape. Mercury glass votive holders in a blue ombre design are scattered all throughout and around the base of the centerpiece to provide ambient light.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a Butterfly - buffet with bonsai trees

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a Butterfly - Pillar candles with rhinestones from Z Gallerie

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a Butterfly - Buffet candles collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One: Float Like a Butterfly - Bonsai treeThe buffet is lightly adorned to complement the peaceful nature of the dining table decor. Bonsai trees anchor each end. The center decor is made up of two brilliantly-colored Z Gallerie pillar candles flecked with similarly colored rhinestones. The pillar candles sit atop broad iron candlesticks from Hobby Lobby. A trio of votives, like those on the table, act as a visual connect between the bonsais.

It was much too cold and windy the days I worked on this blue & brown summer tablescape, but imagine it outside at dusk. Thanks to the chocolaty brown tablecloth, everything on top of the table would just kind of float in an ethereal fashion. Like sea foam gently rolling over sand. Cool, huh?

Still don’t think brown is a summer color? 😉

Other blue & brown posts on this site:
“Autumn Blues”
“Zen Garden”
“Mum’s the Word”

Other tablescapes with an Asian-inspired theme on this site:
“Peaceful Peonies”
“Mikasa Daylight”
“Mandarin Bling”
“Copper Zen”
“Morocco for Two”
“Year of the Rabbit”

I’m joining these fun link parties this week, and I hope you’ll come along!:
Jessica’s “A New Creation”
Cuisine Kathleen’s “Let’s Dish!”

Susan’s “Tablescape Thursday”

Also check me out at BeBetsy.com!

Blue & White 30th Birthday

No, silly…not my 30th birthday! We just hosted our 3rd and final child’s 30th birthday party this past Sunday. I’m putting this photo first because seeing 3 of them through to 30 deserves a celebratory drink…or two…or three! 🙂
(All photos by Sheri L. Grant. Click any image to enhance/enlarge it.)

The guest of honor requested Chinese food for her party, so cool….Asian cuisine and decor it is! As guests arrived they were invited to enjoy a virgin Mai Tai (with “fuel” provided on the side for those of us who like it leaded!!! ;-)) A mix of pineapple & orange juices splashed with cherry limeade made up the Mai Tais, and I threaded orange slices and maraschino cherries onto fun bamboo skewers from World Market to dress them up and add flavor. These beautiful cobalt blue champagne flutes from Dollar Tree were a perfect companion to our blue & white theme throughout. (Shopping at Dollar Tree and Deal$ – owned by the same parent company – is a smart way to really stretch your tablescaping dollars!) Ralph Lauren “Mandarin” plates are a decorative addition to the foyer table along with mums floating in Pier 1 white ceramic bowls.

One by one, the guests began to arrive. (My stepdaughter/the guest of honor, Robyn, is the one wearing the white sleeveless blouse.)

Because we have such a tiny dining room, we turned the family room into a casual chic Chinese restaurant in blue and white for the evening. I used white outdoor bistro chairs here, but if you can splurge on a bamboo Chiavari or Chippendale chair or even a wicker or seagrass chair…that would be beyond fabulous!!! Let your budget dictate what you use. Bamboo chairs are SO on my wish list!!!

After draping two 6-ft. oblong tables with white full-length linens to create a sumptuously long 12-foot Tuscan-style table, I created place settings using square rattan chargers from Tuesday Morning. I had my sister running all over Minnesota (the closest state to Missouri where there were more of them!) looking for enough of these for 12. Thanks, Barf! Fun monstera leaf placemats from Z Gallerie added depth and color. White square plates from the B. Smith collection (Bed Bath & Beyond) and beautiful rice bowls with a cutout for chopsticks from Old Time Pottery finish off the place setting. We kept the rice bowls on the plates as decor until just before guests were seated for dinner, at which time we moved them to the center of the table and placed the chopsticks alongside the flatware.

I never know who prefers what, so I included both Cambridge dark faux bamboo flatware (Home Goods and One King’s Lane) and stainless steel chopsticks I picked up from an Asian market in Overland Park, KS. The blue & white ceramic chopstick rests came from that same market for a very reasonable price. I bought the beautiful mother of pearl mosaic napkin rings at Old Time Pottery, but I have also seen them at Z Gallerie.

Cobalt blue goblets from Dollar Tree used for orange spice tea match the champagne flutes used for Mai Tais upon the guests’ arrival.

This large blue & white ceramic ginger jar from Home Goods served as the anchor for the extended centerpiece which also included two smaller ginger jars. All were set atop lacquered rosewood stands from Old Time Pottery to give them more prominence on the table.

To lend height, color, texture, and drama to the table, I used clear gooseneck fluted vases to hold oversized monstera leaves from Hobby Lobby that mimicked the placemats. By all means, if you have access to real monstera leaves, go for it with gusto!!! Fan palms or banana leaves would also look really cool!

I wanted the table to have an exotic Far East feel about it, so I added these cool white parrots from Z Gallerie to the mix. (To see another post with these parrots, click HERE for “Caribbean Queen”.) They looked right at home perched in the “shade” of the monstera leaves and pinkish mums.

My original idea was to hang white paper lanterns throughout the room, but the persistent pain of not one but two torn rotator cuffs put the brakes on that in a hurry. All that overhead work would have done me in for sure! So I opted to hang a few in the window (with hubby’s help!) and display more on top of the big, bulky television armoire. If you can’t move it out, decorate it!

It hit 95 degrees this day, so no one opted for hot tea after dinner. A good hostess is always prepared, though! The teapot is from Pier 1, and the little teacups are from World Market. I bought the trio of graduated size bamboo trays from a wholesaler years ago. They were stacked like this in storage, and I thought they would look cool (as well as add height) if I kept them that way.

Robyn’s favorite is chicken fried rice, so that had to be front and center on the buffet table set up in the dining room.

Appetizers included spring rolls, crab rangoon and lettuce wraps.

Another appetizer was skewered chunks of fresh pineapple and strawberries from Costco set on white miso spoons from Pier 1 and drizzled with honey. The spoons are displayed on bamboo trays purchased at Old Time Pottery.

Surely you do not think for a New York minute that I actually cooked all of this food? Ha! I leave Chinese food to the die-hard professionals who know their way around a wok! Oriental Express in Kansas City, MO, has some of the best Chinese food around, and the service always comes with a great smile from beautiful Jie (I hope I spelled that right!). Cooked to perfection every time for a very reasonable price, it’s worth the 25-minute drive from our house! Many, many thanks to everyone there for providing such a wonderful meal!!! (Full disclosure: The spring rolls and lettuce wraps were a last-minute addition from Costco.)

Oriental Express on Urbanspoon

The back buffet was simply decorated with another ginger jar on a rosewood stand flanked by two (faux) bonsai trees (TJ Maxx) and bowls (Hobby Lobby) of fresh floating mums.

After dinner, Ramon presented Robyn with her beautiful (and delicious!!!) cake from Patrick Snuffer Cakes (816-452-7590). He free-handed a cherry blossom branch in icing to go along with our Asian theme. (Do you see how Ramon is holding that cake…making it sag in the middle??? I’m going to have to give the little Mr. a good talkin’ to! :-))

After dinner and dessert, we played a fun (and slightly naughty!) fortune cookie game called “In Bed.” One of my silly former colleagues introduced me to this game about 20 years ago. Each person opens their cookie and reads their fortune aloud ending it with the words “in bed.” Try it sometime….as you can see from the expression on the guests’ faces, it’s hilarious!!!!!!!! 🙂 (Poor Mike was sweatin’ bullets reading that in front of my husband and me!)

The birthday girl and her beau, Mike, looking like the cats that ate the canary. They have a LOT of teeth, don’t they? The teeth just go on for miles, and miles, and miles, and miles….!!! 🙂
Happy 30th Birthday, Robyn!!!

More Asian-inspired tablescapes on this blog:
Mandarin Bling
Year of the Rabbit
Peaceful Peonies
Copper Zen
Mikasa ‘Daylight’ Giveaway
Mum’s the Word
Zen Garden

More posts using paper lanterns:
Under a Paper Moon
Easter Brunch

More posts on this site using cobalt blue:
Daffodillyicious
Peony Power
Surf & Turf Dinner
Brilliant Italian
Summer Blues & Greens

I am joining Susan over at Between Naps on the Porch for “Tablescape Thursday” anytime after 9:00 a.m. CDT. Join me, won’t you?

Diwali My Way

The extent to which I am familiar with Indian culture is that which I’ve seen in movies like “Bend It Like Beckham”. Last year, though, I found a blog called Rainbow – The Colours of India hosted by my blogger buddy Sanghamitra Bhattacherjee (Mukherjee). Sanghamitra is an avid traveler and photographer who captures some of the most beautiful images I’ve ever seen. She has become my personal version of National Geographic. 🙂 I’m in awe of people who can just pack a suitcase and hit the road (or skies, or water) without reservation or hesitation. I’m the consummate homebody, so I live vicariously through those brave, happy-go-lucky souls.

Sanghamitra’s photos of the bright colors of India, along with her posts last Fall on Diwali (popularly known as the “festival of lights“), inspired me to try my hand at a table that celebrates the festival which generally begins in October/November. This Diwali-inspired tablescape is by no means “traditional” or “authentic”, but it is my attempt to capture the colors, smells, tastes and feel of a country I admire but will never see in person. I think it fits right in with Cuisine Kathleen’s “Destination Challenge” this week!
(Click on any image to enhance/enlarge it.)

An abundance of rich, bright colors starts with the hot pink overlay.


Each place setting begins with a gold-leafed glass charger. The amber glass dinner plates are from Pier 1, and the 222 Fifth “Ornamental Scroll” salad plates were a Home Goods find a couple of years ago.

Sheer gold napkins from Pier 1 are cinched with tiny child-size bangles purchased at a local market called Namaste India. It’s a fun place to shop with lots of different foods, clothing, jewelry and other items unique to the Indian culture.

Shiny gold flatware works well against the brilliant colors.

A combination of opulent glassware includes gold-embellished tumblers that I bought at TJ Maxx in several different base colors (purple, red, turquoise) including the green pictured here. The purple gold-rimmed wine glasses were a Pier 1 find many years ago, and the leggy amber flute is from World Market. I love every opportunity to mix and match glassware!

The centerpiece that extends the length of the table is a mix of various components. Hot pink rose balls sit center stage atop a gold vase. Flanking the vases are graceful red gem-studded gold Buddhas that I found at Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft store a couple of years ago. Multi-colored glass votive holders dot the rich swath of red & gold silk fabric placed diagonally and allowed to puddle onto the floor for dramatic effect.

The buffet behind the table boasts colors that complement in the flowers, candles and other details.

Spices commonly used in Indian cooking are as beautiful as they are tasty. Coriander, cumin, curry, fennel, ginger, mustard seed, paprika and turmeric are just a few of the wonderfully fragrant spices that add zesty flavor.

Cinnamon, star anise, and fragrant bay leaf are other popular spices used in Indian cooking that produce a special flavor. Finish off the evening with a fabulous libation made with blue curacao liqueur.

I carried the hot pink color to the buffet via a small arrangement of peonies and a more imposing bouquet of calla lilies in a brass vase from India.

Other Asian-inspired posts on this site:
Mandarin Bling
Copper Zen
Peaceful Peonies
Year of the Rabbit
Zen Garden
Mikasa Daylight Giveaway

I enjoyed my week off and got a lot done, but I’m glad to be back with all of you in Blogland! Please join me at Cuisine Kathleen’s for “Let’s Dish!” and at Susan’s place for Tablescape Thursday again this week!

Mum’s the Word/Zen Garden

I’m taking a break from the buffet tables I have shared the last couple of weeks to bring you something a little different. I have a goofy rule about not buying anything unless I can think of at least 5 ways to use it in under 30 seconds. Sometimes that’s a real challenge. Other times, however, the ideas just flow.

I recently conducted an exercise in my “Art of Tablescaping” class that engaged the students in looking at a centerpiece item and brainstorming about all the different ways it could be used. The genesis of these two tablescapes is that exercise, along with napkins & matching placemats I bought year-before-last at Burlington. The white flowers remind me of Fuji mums, and the gentle nature of the design makes me think of a quiet Japanese garden. I figured I could bring out a little or a lot of that Asian feel depending on the additional elements used, but that both looks would work well for a Spring tablescape.

IMG_4760WMI remember sitting in the aisle with the napkin on my head (the inspiration seems to come quicker for me that way!) with possibilities shooting out from every which way. (And yes, I often sit there for long periods of time making purchase decisions that have more to do with “How much trouble will I be in for spending this money?” as opposed to “How many ways can I use it?” Don’t judge me! ;-))

What you’ll see here are side-by-side comparisons of how switching just a couple of elements can change the whole look and feel of a tablescape. See if you can spot the subtle differences. “Mum’s the Word” on the left would be great for any “business casual” get-together, and “Zen Garden” on the right would work well when serving something fun like sushi or takeout Chinese food.
(Click to enlarge any photo.)

Besides the robin’s egg blue placemats and napkins, both place settings utilize Z Gallerie’s “Delfina” china with its glossy white center, chocolate brown rim, and sophisticated silver edging.

Making the napkin look a little different is as easy as changing the napkin ring. The napkin on the left has a silver-rimmed faux mother of pearl ring (I bought them at Old Time Pottery, but Z Gallerie has them, too), while the ring on the right is a natural rattan (Pier 1).

The setting on the left uses clear glass everyday glassware from Old Time Pottery. The setting on the left replaces the all-American stemware with a simple white sake cup from World Market.

The flatware on the left with faux mother of pearl handles is distinctively different from the stainless bamboo on the right which evokes a more deliberate Asian feel. (Both from Target.)

The elements of the unusual centerpiece remain the same for both tablescapes. A stripped natural manzanita branch from TJ Maxx (yeah, that’s right, TJ Maxx…who’d have thought?!??!) mimics both the color and curves of the branch on the placemat. Soothing white Fuji mums in clear glass Hobby Lobby cylinders stand alongside silver Revere candlesticks with chocolate brown candles. (Note: Fuji mums will last for a couple of weeks if you cut the stem on the diagonal, change the water every couple of days, and maintain a comfortable room temperature.)

The overall look of the buffet is altered by the simple addition of extra elements that steer away from the more austere look of simple candles and florals as pictured on the left.

The simple white World Market sake set and teapot (T.J. Maxx) definitely lend Asian influence.

The melodic sounds from soothing Japanese chimes can be used to gently alert your guests that a feast awaits.

Subtle differences can make a world of difference!

Other posts on this site with an Asian feel:
Mandarin Bling
Copper Zen
Year of the Rabbit
Peaceful Peonies
Mikasa Daylight” (Design #2)

I am joining Susan and many other talented tablescapers from out there in the world for Tablescape Thursday again this week. Also hooking up with The Style Sisters for Centerpiece Wednesday. Hope to see you there!

Peaceful Peonies

Chinese New Year is January 23, 2012. I love the colorful pageantry associated with this holiday! Last year I created a traditional Chinese New Year tablescape using lots of red and gold with black accents. (Click HERE and scroll down to “Year of the Rabbit” to see last year’s post.) This year, now tired of all the red used for Christmas decorating, I went rogue with a fiery hot pink.
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it.)

One of the great things about this particular tablescape design is that the Asian influence is somewhat understated, thus rendering it suitable for various contemporary-styled occasions such as rehearsal dinners or ladies luncheons (sans the candles, of course). The two-tone linen combo of sizzling hot pink over the more neutral black immediately draws the eye in.

To demonstrate how the same dishes can create an entirely different atmosphere depending on the accessories, compare this setting to that of “Let Them Eat Cake” from a post last year. (Click HERE and scroll down to “Let Them Eat Cake“.) A gold leafed glass charger and gold-rimmed white china from Pier 1 are topped with an F. Winkel & Co. “Jacobean” salad plate. The vivid coloring and busy pattern of the salad plate are just the right combination to accent the plainer underplates and bring in the black, gold, hot pink and white.

I had my eye on these Buddhas from the moment they hit the store shelves at Z Gallerie last year. I must have chewed half a pound of fingernails waiting for them to go on clearance, hoping there would be enough left over. Jackpot! Got all I needed at 75% off!!! Here they hold a gold mercury glass votive.

My “old reliable” goldtone flatware works well here with its subtle pattern.

I opted for crystal stemware with gold rims, but opaque black stemware like Mikasa’s “Elegance-Black” would work well, too.

I felt the need to break up that searing hot pink surface a bit more. I achieved this by folding the black poly-cotton napkins from Bed Bath & Beyond into a long chevron and placing them beneath each setting, allowing them to extend downward over the pink linen.

I almost always use either white or ivory candles, but I’m getting bolder in my old age! 😉 Long black tapers are set into a trio of 20″H goldtone candlesticks to add height and color down the table’s center.

Black powder-coated ginger jars hold a mix of pink peonies, white alstroemeria, and star blossoms. (Florals used here for demonstrative purposes are faux, but I encourage the use of natural flowers for actual entertaining. If, however, all natural flowers are out of your budgetary reach, try mixing realistic fauxs with fresh. The key there is realistic fauxs that blend well!)

Lined up on each side of the centerpiece are four gold mercury glass votives to add ambient light at the lowest level.

The notably restrained buffet decor is a giant black ginger jar flanked by a pair of the same F. Winkel & Co. plates as used on the table. Florals from the table are extended by simply plopping 3 peonies into a shallow black bowl.

2012 is the Year of the Dragon, so printed menus with the Chinese symbols for dragon – 龙年 – or a dragon watermark, or menus in the shape of a dragon would be another element to make this table special. Specialty stores may carry oversized ceramic dragons which would be a great addition, too! (Or go check out Grandma’s attic for them. These dragons, as well as panthers for some odd reason, were all the rage in contemporary 1960s homes.) A nice substitute for the peonies would be deep pink carnations, orchids or, depending on availability, pink plum blossom branches which symbolize luck. If your budget allows for it, rented bamboo chiavari chairs in black would be the crowning touch!

More tablescapes using hot pink on this site:
Daisy Crazy
Hello, Dahlia
Let Them Eat Cake
Hollywood Fright Night

Another tablescape using peonies:
Peonies & Pearls

Thank you for stopping in! I hope you’ll join me again this week at Susan’s place for Tablescape Thursday! You can also catch me at BeBetsy.com!

Copper Zen

I’m still on the mend from this horrible upper respiratory thing that has plagued me the last two weeks, but I’m not going to let a little thing like not breathing keep me from posting!!! 🙂

I had this post on hold from a table I did some time ago. This one is not a Thanksgiving-oriented set-up, but it will be a good one to keep in mind for those days in January and February when you want to create a peaceful winter tablescape for entertaining after the hectic holiday season.

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IMG_2923WMI started with a sleek black full-length table linen.

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I bought these fabulous dark green Home Essentials & Beyond “Montclair Collection” dinner plates at Marshalls awhile back. I so love the intricate raised design! My hesitation in using these lovely plates sooner has been in what to pair with them. The black linen inspired me to use a black charger, but I knew it would disappear. The addition of the cool square copper-colored chargers made all the difference!!! I wish I could tell you where to get the copper chargers, but I bought them wholesale and don’t know where they are sold retail. The black chargers are from Wal-Mart. I set the double chargers in an offset position to show off all three layers.

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For this dinner we were eating Chinese takeout, so a pair of chopsticks were the only eating utensils necessary. I nestled them in the crevice of sleek black napkins pinched with copper-colored napkin rings (also purchased wholesale) and draped across the plate.

IMG_2915WMSo I finally got hip to Dollar Tree. It’s about time, huh? My Mom called and said there was some beautiful dark green stemware there that I just MUST see, so off I went! Lo and behold, there was stemware that would work perfectly with the plates! Hooray!!! I scooped up a dozen each goblets and champagne flutes, and the cashier gave me the ugliest look I’ve ever seen when I got to the counter. She was NOT happy about having to wrap all of those, even though I brought along my own bubble wrap and box!

I bought these uber-cool dark green Vidrios San Miguel vases (made of recycled glass!) at TJ Maxx awhile back. LOVE THEM!!! They’re huge and they really make a statement on the table! To go with the sleek, zen feeling of the room I just plopped in a few branches of fresh curly willow for a cool and easy centerpiece.

I used a double row of votives between the two vases of curly willow to lend continuity to the look of the centerpiece and add ambient light.

I repeated the oblong votive treatment on the buffet behind the dining table for a sleek, easy look with lots of character!

Other Asian-inspired tablescapes on this site:
Peaceful Peonies
Mandarin Bling
Year of the Rabbit
Mikasa ‘Daylight’ Giveaway

Other tablescapes using curly willow on this site:
Welcome Back, Joel
Autumn Blues
Blushing Bridal

I’m joining Susan and a bunch of really talented tablescapers from around the globe again this week for Tablescape Thursday. Please join us!

Mandarin Bling

Regained a smidge of my creative mojo, y’all!
This is the first tablescape I have created since…well, you know! 😉

I’ve been in a creative slump lately, drowning in the cesspool of the last couple of months. I recently decided to surface, catch my breath, and get my hips back to tablescaping!!! 🙂 I drew inspiration from Alberto Pinto’s book “Table Settings”. (Click here or on the “Books That Make You Go Ooh!” tab above to read my review.) I was drawn to his continental style that is markedly different and quite dramatic. Hence, the color palate used here is bright Mandarin orange, blue and white.

 

To create this Oriental tablescape with European style, I started with a starched white floor-length cotton table linen. Floor-length in this case was a must to convey the relative formality of the evening. A 13″ round mirrored charger is topped with Ralph Lauren’s “Mandarin Blue” dinner and salad plates. The plates have two separate but complementary designs. Other pieces in Lauren’s “Mandarin Blue” have orange flourishes.

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I created the menus using a lightweight neon orange cardstock layered with white. A clip art Mandarin symbol adorns the front of each and separates the listed courses.

Now that my mojo is back, my love of energetic color has returned as well. Cobalt blue water goblets from Pier 1 team up with Crystal d’Arques wine glasses and fun orange martinis in which dessert would be served. (Orange martinis found at Old Time Pottery.) This eclectic but complementary mix is typical Alberto Pinto style.

With dishes in a pattern called “Mandarin Blue”, it seemed fitting to use flatware with an Asian influence. Adding a pair of chopsticks alongside the bamboo stainless flatware offers those with the necessary skills a chance to eat in an authentic manner.

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IMG_1179WMThe centerpiece is composed of 29″H clear pilsner vases topped with bright orange rose balls that are visually “connected” by crystal garlands. A single crystal prism, suspended from the bottom of the rose ball, dances in the light of 25″ Paradise candles. (Click here to see another table decorated with rose balls. Click here or on the “Table Tips” tab above – Tip #27 – to see how the prisms are discreetly attached.)

Gilded servants from Z Gallerie offer another level of intimate candlelight.

IMG_1121WMThe buffet display has a Z Gallerie 24″ orange wooden tray tucked behind an oversized ginger jar from Home Goods. More servants with votive candles stand guard in front of the display. Tea service uses “Mandarin Blue” cups and saucers along with a simply designed teapot from Home Goods.

Though very non-traditional in color & style for the holiday, this tablescape would be great for Chinese New Year!

So…who says eating Chinese takeout is just for college students and sitcom characters? “Homey don’t play that!” 🙂 For me, it’s all about the Mandarin Bling!!!

Other Asian-inspired tablescapes on this site:
Year of the Rabbit
Peaceful Peonies
Copper Zen
Mikasa ‘Daylight’ Giveaway

You are invited to join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch along with a bevy of wonderfully talented tablescapers for Tablescape Thursday. You can also catch me over at BeBetsy.com. See you there!